The holiday shopping season is upon us, and what is the one thing that X-Box fans have wanted for three years now? A good "found under the Christmas tree" role-playing game. This task falls on Fable's shoulders, but is it ready for the challenge? The answer is yes!
Peter Molyneux has a problem with hyping up his titles. Most can --probably--remember Black and White and how it was supposed to be one of the greatest games ever, but it simply turned out to be over-hyped. As the release of Fable moved closer and closer, it seemed that this particular game could fall into the same category, but Fable most certainly does not.
I am reviewing this game by judging what the final product is. That is what concerns me most.
Fable begins with you --a little boy-- who needs to buy a birthday gift for your older sister. Right from the start, you first experience the game's good/evil aspect (one of its key selling points). The choices you make will affect your character both now and in the future. You roam around town and help individuals, earning enough money to buy your sister a gift. Once you have finished, the real story takes over. After you give your sister her birthday present, the town is attacked by bandits. Your father is killed, and as far as you know, your sister and mother are dead. You, however, are saved in the nick of time by a member of the Heroes Guild.
The Heroes Guild is akin to your hub in Fable. It is where you go for quests, to further the story, and they give out experience.
The game now switches to a tutorial mode where you learn the game's basic aspects. Thankfully, this part is not incredibly tedious, so it shouldn't bother gamers who want to jump into things. After you finish the tutorial, you move into the story.
Throughout Fable, you will accept quests at the Heroes Guild. Some quests are for the main story, while others are side quests that help you to earn extra renown, money, and experience.
I just mentioned renown, one of the large aspects to the game and also something that some gamers may be unfamiliar with. Renown is how well known you are in the world of Fable. One of the ways to actually do poorly in this game is to have low renown. However, this is almost unknown because you will be gaining renown merely by doing what you must do. You'll always end the game with the highest level. Basically put, a character will be around the same renown during certain points of the game every time you play it.
I really love this game. Fable is my favorite X-Box game thus far and one of my top 10 favorite games. I feel that this title has many points in its favor.
For one, the combat system is excellent. Considering you can use a sword, bow and magic, the game handles the use of these different attacks with a great control system. All the buttons seem to be in a logical place with nothing awkward or hard to do. The learning curve is rather short. Within thirty minutes you will have it down without a problem. They also manage to keep the combat fresh. There are a decent amount of different enemies to fight throughout the game. Furthermore, a good sense of satisfaction is there when you are mowing down foes, which you will be doing a lot and with relative ease.
Another aspect that I enjoy is your character's evolution, a large focus in Fable. You see your character evolve during the game; they age and change appearance with the accomplishment of good or evil deeds. To assist the idea that your character really changes, the experience system is great and leveling up skills is nicely done. You not only get general experience (for killing enemies and solving quests), but receive attribute specific experience (for killing enemies with a hand to hand combat weapon, bow or magic) as well. When you finish the game, your character is a representation of how you played the game.
The final aspect I appreciate is how your character can change their haircuts, facial hair and even tattoos. These are nice touches to the game, giving your character flair, even though they affect how people judge you. It is such a great feeling to have people either cheer and applaud you or jeer you and run away in terror. This creates a "job well done" sense in the player.
This part might become a problem for some, yet I am listing it as a plus: Fable is an easy game. There is no other way to say it. You hit only a few minor bumps in the road, but at no point will you be ripping out your hair because it is too difficult. This makes it accessible to all gamers.
An obvious merit to the game is that it's simply gorgeous. The graphics are spectacular and a perfect fit for the title. There are tons of great, little additions, like owning property, getting married and playing drinking games.
Lastly, and one of the best attributes, is that Fable has a good story. Nothing revolutionary, but a strong story that really helps to keep things interesting.
Even though I've been praising Fable up and down, it is not without its faults. The game is short. I completed it the first time without knowing anything about it in roughly fourteen hours. That was with doing most of the side quests as well.
The game's replay value is not as high, unlike others I have played. I still go back, partly because your character can turn out differently, but overall it can be repetitive. Something that could bother free-nature role players is that the game has small, set paths that you are typically on and there is not a lot of room for roaming.
One minor issue for gamers who likes using magic is that there is a weak selection of spells. Some spells, like Slow Time, are cheap and make an easy game even easier.
Is Fable the greatest RPG of all time? Unfortunately, the answer is no. (I say Fallout for the PC.) This title is, however, the best RPG that the X-box offers, and one of the better titles to be released in 2004. Fable is an excellent gift for any X-Box owner this holiday season.